||[Apr. 17th, 2007|11:22 pm]
Cable x Deadpool
Title: Chicago Was A Riot
Series: Never Gets Older - follows 'The Impenetrable Noise of No Guns Firing'.
Characters: Wade, Nate and an empty bar.
Note: I figured I'd have a go at Cable POV, which is way harder than I'd anticipated, and I'm not exactly satisfied with it, but, well, you've got to let these babies go eventually or you'll never be rid of them, plus if I stay any later and chug any more coffee I'm going to start hallucinating. (I'll be glad to get back to Wade in what will hopefully be the end of this whole mess) Slash hints if you squint, I s'pose.
Wade bodyslides them into a hospital like any other, in a city like any other. Finally, the exhaustion hits, the drip-drip-drip of the blood, painpainpain where his arm should be and he's just so tired-- blinks and stretches of womenmen in uniforms red black something in his heart and oh-- he convinces himself that the feeling in his gut is-- as-- psychosomatic; without his-- powers, there's no way he can actually feel Providence shattering-- shards, oh.
Three days later, he wakes up, thanks the nurse profusely (reaches out for his powers, or Providence, or Askani or people or anything-- even now his mind is a jumble, damn it all) and leaves the hospital quietly. Slips past the nurses, the guards and the automatic doors like a ghost. No one will notice he's gone until they come in for his check-up, and by then it'll be too late.
He has no time for distractions.
The streets of this city are bustling now, with evening fast approaching, the sky darkening. For a while, he wanders aimlessly - or so he thinks - drinking in the sights, trying and failing to line up the events that lead him to this point. Three hundred deaths added to the bulging figure in the back of his mind, and yet... His mind wanders, slippery like an eel, and that's why it's a surprise when, even though he doesn't know he's searching (is this how he feels all the time?), he finds Wade again purely by chance: he takes a left into an alleyway, takes another right further down, and then a group of screaming men and women pass him by. Some of them are bleeding, and they're running from a bar, and if that isn't deja vu, he doesn't know what is. Without the Cone of Silence, though, there's little he can do from here except go in.
It's only a few more steps before he finds himself peering through the broken door, spotting familiar red leaning on a stool, his back to the bar, arms draped along it and nursing a bottle of beer, a straw and a tiny pink umbrella sticking out of the neck. Being Wade, of course, he's talking an endless stream of gibberish.
"It's not that it's any of your business, y'know, mr. Chair, but I got this hankerin' sometimes, y'know? I just gotta pop in one of those Golden Girls tapes and then I tell you, man, they don't make old people like that anymore. Why, back in my day--"
Here, Wade's energy displays itself only in his rapid-fire speech: alone, his body now holds the firm silence of a trained fighter, free of fidgets or large gestures. The definition is probably strange, but for Wade, this blankness is-- self. For as much as Wade seems to ramble, pose and gesture, an observer has to recognize, grudgingly, that the man handles communication like an art form. Acting. Acting so well that even he forgets, sometimes.
Or maybe a weapon. A way to distract, get people to underestimate him. That's one difference that works in Wade's favor, and it's a tiny one, but still. Nobody would ever expect any less of Cable than sheer strength. The self-made mystery man, a step ahead of everyone.
Maybe he recognizes it because they're the same, that way. The principle works, as always.
There's a bizarre detail that draws his attention, though. Costume, katana (one's missing - ah, there, bloodied in the corner) straps and guns, they're all there, but the mask lies slung over the side of the pool table, clean of blood or other bodily fluids.
"The police are going to be here in a few minutes," he says softly, ducking his head to avoid the long jagged splinters sticking out of the top of the doorframe.
"Let 'em." Wade doesn't seem surprised to see him. In fact, he barely gets a glance; the mercenary is staring at the pool table, his fingers wrapped tightly around the bottle. "I could go for knockin' a few heads right now."
He brushes past the pool table, soaking in the scenery. Blood, dirt, grime and broken bottles, but no bodies. For some reason, that soothes him. He's seen too many of those these past few days.
"What happened?" he asks when he's done surveying the room, meeting Wade's eyes for the first time, except the man seems to be looking straight through him.
"Wanted some space. And some booze. Guys wouldn't fuck off, so I got one to lend me a hand-- well, an arm, really-- and made me some. Space, I mean. Wanna drink?" He reaches out with an arm - cut off neatly just above the elbow - and pats it on another stool. "Siddown, young man."
He frowns at the disembodied arm. He'd hoped Wade had at least taken that lesson to heart, but right now he's in no state to make a point of it. Too late, anyway. "Was that necessary?"
There's not even a beat of quiet before Wade shrugs. Challenging. "Probably not. Who cares. You don't count." He takes a long pull off his beer before replying, thoughtfully, "I hate Chicago. An' I don't just mean the shitty musical with the whiny broads and all the guns - though that one chick's voice is so shrill I really shoulda tracked her down when I-- I walk in here, and bam - it's just like thirty years ago. Full of young kids who think they've got reason to play tough 'cause their mommy hates 'em and sometimes they hate themselves for bein' a dumbass, cops who think they got reason to be tough 'cause they got shot a couple of times, and mob bosses who think they own the patent on 'tough' and they got the right to collect."
There's no mistaking Wade's tone of voice: one of his rare serious moods, where he drops stories left and right. It occurs to him suddenly that he could probably use this particular distraction, so he pulls up a stool and a bottle. It's a long walk to Rumekistan.
Longer still to the bottom of the ocean, where his life is-- was-- hundreds ended, despite all of his work, all of his effort. Where souls were lost in more ways than one. He closes his eyes. There's no use for thoughts like that - there's always hope. Given careful planning, anyway, and a mind open to matters of the future.
"--I love NY. At least there everybody's honest about just wanting to be a prick for the hell've it."
His fingers are cold around his beer. "So why come here?" he asks; it's an interesting question. But Wade isn't going to give him an answer. It's up to him to make the educated guess, based on what he learned the last time Wade was like this. Based on Wade.
He looks around. Something pings.
"Is this the place?" he asks.
The response is immediate. Stretched-out arms, an umbrella goes flying. "To part-ay!" Back to the idiot. He's too tired for any of this.
"Where your father died." Coolly. His fingers tap against the glass in a quiet rhythm. Most of him has been in free fall for too long, now, and it's nice to have some kind of inconsequential information to grab a hold of.
"Here? Nah. I'm a kid from Ohio, I toldya that." Wade is shifting: avoiding. "Or maybe Canada. I forget." Finally, he just turns around on his stool, throws the arm onto the table, and hunches forwards over his drink. The traditional pose of every alcoholic that ever lived. He's still doing it.
But Nate isn't going to stop here. Instincts and experience tells him that this is where he presses: "You also told me you moved around."
"I guess. Does it matter? Unless you wanna get back into Phil-space, in which case, there's the door. Or, well, was, anyway. I'm expecting guys to come by asking if they can take it home any moment now. Probably something about orphans and burning it for kindling so they don't have to watch America's Next Top Model by the dashboard light." He reaches down and picks the umbrella back off the floor, flicking it thoughtlessly at Nate. "You don't get that shit in NY, they'd just steal it and leave you the hell alone." he says, wistfully.
Wade's distate for this city is too over the top to be about anything as shallow as that, but he figures this is not the thing to push about. Nor is it really of any interest to him. Move on.
There are few places he finds himself surpressing a sigh as often as in Wade's presence; the exasperation is almost a fondness, now, like the tiny daily problems of the people. Day to day life.
"I asked you to tell me the truth, once." he says, finally, looking at the tiny toothpick umbrella in his hand. It's covered in little flowers, but Wade has been drawing big black ovals on the top.
Suddenly it's as if there's a plate of steel in the room, dividing it neatly between him and Wade. 'Divorce' might have been the right word, after all. "Just cut it out, Nate." the merc says, eyes narrowing. He pushed too far. Again. Like trying to have a conversation about the weather when the clouds are shifting every second - rain, snow, hail, nothing, repeat. It's enough to drive anyone up the wall. "You're doing that thing again." Despite the dismissive words, he can tell by the darkness in Wade's voice that this particular talk is far from over. Good. It may offer him... opportunities, along the line.
"What--" he tries.
"That thing where you ask lotsa questions and don't say anything yourself." Now he's getting the angry look. "Cut it out. I'm tired of havin' you pokin' around my brainpan, one way or another." The straw is next to be flicked, and little drops of beer seep between his fingers when he catches it. "So shaddup for a minute."
That's the old sore spot.
"Fine." he says. Maybe some day, that particular bruise is going to fade.
"Anyway... What was I talking about? Oh, right. Chicago and sucking." Wade shifts again, but this time his back straightens, as if returning to its default position. "I was scared to come here at first, y'know? 'Cause of all the stuff, and remembering how the guys were all up tough in Hulkamania style all the time. Raaaar. But a while back, me and Weaz got drunk - he was still such a freakin' kid then, all happy coked-up straight outta Tijuana, and he got his hands on this copy of 'The Blues Brothers' on Betamax.
"So afterwards we broke into this shitty men's place and got some suits. Couldn't stay in NY 'cause I started this outstanding thing involving a hooker, a limey and an orange that night - I think I brained the orange with the limey and then ate the hooker, no, wait, that doesn't sound right, anyway-- so we went to Chicago-- drove a couple cars over things, into things, y'know, the works. Actually, Weasel just wanted to play the tuba, 'cause man he'd had a few, but you've seen the guy - no lung capacity, so he threw it out. Kinda ungrateful considering the trouble I'd gone through to steal the freakin' thing from this little old lady, who was feisty, by the way, not much like Bea but close enough, it hit some cop car right in the windshield, which was kinda funny, even if it got the whole freakin' CPD on our tushes.
"By the end of the night I'm trapped in this blown-up place with this scared-but-tough-lookin' pig - they don't make them any other way in Chicago - and he's blubbering on about this sad story about having shot some guy for the first time, being all depressed, don't cry little emo boy, and then's when it happened, y'know? I start laughing, wave my gun in his face, and tell him I've killed hundreds of people and do I look like I spend my nights crying into an embroidered hankie? Bam. Stuff your post-traumatic treatment up your behind, shrinks."
It takes him a while to decode the verbal diarrhea. So Wade's fear of Chicago disappeared... when he decided that he had more of a right to play a tough guy than the local police force? It makes sense, in a Wade sort of way, but now he finds himself wondering (not for the first time) just how far that track record of his goes. Even the infonet had its limits, and Wade's brain has always been a fairly insurmountable one.
"Sounds... interesting." he offers, breaking his vow of silence at the earliest opportunity.
"Yeah." Wade has a fond smile on his face. Reminiscing. "We called it the Night of the Blues. But the point is, Nate, folks like you and me don't belong in this town. I used to, back when I lived here, left, came back, blah blah, mellons, blah blah, incarceration, but that's a couple dozen gazillion atrocities away now. Now this place is just full of lame."
"I see," he says. Absolutely ridiculous. Which is Wade in a nutshell. Despite himself, he lets a smile seep onto his face as he brings the bottle to his mouth. "Which is why you've been here for the past few days."
But instead of some kind of quick rebuttal, there's an expectant silence awaiting him. It's leaving his mind to wander back to a few days ago, when everything went so horribly wrong and he wound up damaged every way possible, face down in the water. Failure likes him far too much, and he has to admit that back then, the ability to think about the big picture had left him for just a little while.
"I was sure I was done for," he says, carefully. "The damage was pretty bad. Providence--"
Was dying all around him. Dom's face, when she left.
"Yeah, well, Nate," Wade interrupts, characteristically brash, "You're a putz. We been over this." He glances sideways and smiles hugely. "Hey, look, bar nuts!"
When Wade reaches over, there is a flash of dark red, flowing out of a tear in his suit. In any other situation, that wound should have long since closed: but it remains, bleeding sluggishly, not even clotting. Obviously, he's missed a lot over the past few days, but he can take a guess as to what happened.
"Havin' some trouble with the inner motors. Think I pushed it a little. Should get back to normal in a couple."
It's starting to become impossible for him to finish a sentence without Wade jumping in and rambling about something, and expecting something like it, he doesn't ask the question that's foremost on his mind. Instead, he takes a long pull off his beer and slips easily into an earlier track of thought. He's curious about something.
"You've been here for a few days."
"Wanted to make sure you were alright."
"You could've just gone into the hospital."
The figure next to him blinks at that, caught off-guard. It's good to know Wade hasn't developed some strange kind of telepathy since they last met, because that could have meant trouble. The answer doesn't take a lot of time - casual, but too fast, too obviously fake. Maybe he still has a chance here, then, if he could just move this conversation into the right direction.
He doesn't particularly want to take the trip to Rumekistan alone tonight. Too much disappointment in the air, and he's running low on friends to back him up.
"Nah. Hangin' around waiting rooms tends to make people think you care."
One of these days, he'd like to explain to someone, in depth, how Wade can be far more annoying when he isn't speaking than when he is. Somewhere on the inside, his arm itches to bring his palm to his face, but once again he's careful to avoid the obvious question. Not that he doesn't dig at it, a little.
"So you sat around a city you hated for several days because-- what? You thought I might come find you?"
The shrug is pretty much demonstrative. "You did, didn't you?" Quiet, sure, as if he's used to this part of the world falling into place for him.
Funny thing, that.
He thinks back to a few minutes ago, seeing the mob running with terror in their eyes, and he wonders just how it was that he knew - just knew - who was responsible for the whole situation. Somehow he'd like to blame it on some mutant power returning, because the alternative tells him a fair bit about the way he's been spending his time over the past few years. The people he's been spending it with, and the why.
"I had to follow the screaming." he says.
"Well," Wade says, noncommittally, "There you go."
When did his voice get so quiet? "I wish you wouldn't."
Now that gets him an angry look. Treading on thin ice again, and he's got to be careful. It's not really like the weather, he decides, it's like chemistry. The future works on unchangeable laws, like physics, and he knows law. But Wade works on a crazy man's chemistry, with everyone else throwing substances around in the vain, desperate hope that it doesn't somehow all end in an explosion. He doesn't know what that says about him, nor does he really want to know.
"Yeah, well, if wishes worked, I'd be a millionaire with three hot Swedish triplet girlfriends and Bea Arthur running about the premises calling them filthy, filthy whores right now."
Drink, scowl, repeat.
"When you and I were friends, you made the effort." He still remembers: 'I didn't want to kill him, Nate, I swear!'. Getting begged for his approval, because Wade wanted it, and that was so easy to work with. So easy that when the weather changed, he'd been left scrambling more desperately than he'd anticipated. There's not a lot of people who can say they've done that to him. "Don't tell me you can't."
There are too many damn pauses in this conversation, and of course Wade takes this particular opportunity to start singing - singing and drinking at the same time.
"Tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no.." And the glass smashes down against the table. That's how it must've ended.
He gives up. There's no point. So he shifts the conversation again - gather the little bits of information you can get, and in the end you always find a key. Maybe paying attention would've helped, before: he's got to find the key to lock everything away, too, like he's been doing his whole life to keep from getting overrun.
"Where've you been?"
Wade seems happy with the change in subject, relaxing visibly. He drains the last of his beer before plowing into another, minor burst of gibberish.
"Me an' the girls were down in merry old England for a bit. We got our bangers and mash on, I tell ya. Three bloody fish and a bloody chip in that bloody shepherd's pie, mate."
"I thought Alex Hayden was with you?"
"Hey, I said 'the girls'."
Nate considers that.
"'Cause he's a big girlie man. Keeps lecturing me about hygiene. I think I saw him buy flowery soap the other day. And body butter. Who the hell buys body butter? What's the point of body butter? And how much of it's necessary for-- It's disgusting and must be stopped."
With that, Wade leans over the bar to pluck another bottle out of some hidden concealment crevice. His legs flail comically in the air when he goes over a little too far, but his body is stretching out like a cat's. It seems that he's spent too much time trying to play what he discovered about Wade's need for reassurance, and too little time keeping an eye on Wade's inner workings. Not that that would have been possible, really, because the big picture doesn't exactly allow for a lot of soul searching.
"I hope you didn't do anything too illegal." he says, mildly.
Of course, he gets no response to that except for the return of Wade's gravel-truck style singing, grating on his ears enough that he has to surpress a wince.
"But if my daddy says I'm fi-iine, tried to make me go to rehab, I won't go, go, go!"
When he finally drops back to his seat, ass landing just half an inch shy of the edge, he's holding several bottles. Most of them go into his pouches, which is quite a feat, considering their relative dimensions. Once again, he catches himself smiling.
"Point is. You got no say in that. I'm not gonna be your pet merc again, Nate."
That's the eternal dilemma between them, isn't it? He knows how it should work, how to make it better, how to-- but Wade just won't let him. He just-- he just wants Wade to be better, not in the general sense, as someone specific, someone dear to him. So he won't end up the same way every time, holding his gun to the head of someone he cares about, because the big picture always wins. One is nothing in the face of a million.
Cynicism and rebellion, that age-old mix. No matter how hard he tries, he just can't seem to get Wade to understand - that he can be something, that they can be something, and in turn, so can the world.
That day-to-day isn't all there is, because if it is, then what point is there?
"Gotta brush up on your Clinton, there."
But no. Hostility. Disappointment. In the end...
"I'd like to think we were friends."
"Well, you shoulda thought of that before you kicked my tush for just doin' what I wanted, 'cause that's not friendly." When Wade gestures (demonstratively, of course), every bottle on him sings along.
Why, with all the followers in the world, won't this ever work the way he wants it to, damn it? His anger is easy to control - his everything is easy to control, because control, control is something he knows a few things about. So is Wade.
"Wade, you have to understand--"
So why won't two and two just add up?
"Yeah, yeah, the greater good, billions of deaths on your back, thinking in terms of centuries and millenia, I've heard the whole spiel before. For a dumb kid like me, though, that gets old. Kinda like flopping around in the sandbox. Fun and all, king of your own calm kingdom and all that, but eventually, you just end up with worms in your keister an' Hungarian folk dancers stomping around your grey matter, and you gotta get back to reality before the cops arrest you for public indecency and loitering with malicious intent."
He answered that question himself a long time ago-- Wade has to be his own man. But frustration, desperation makes you forgetful, and sometimes even his ability to pull the strings can be overridden if you have enough of it. Desperation, that is. He's not comfortable following that particular train of thought to its conclusion, though, so he changes the subject. Some things need to be said, anyway, if he ever wants to have Wade fighting on his side again.
And it's true.
"But I'd do it all again."
So is that.
"Yeah." Wade smiles wanly into his beer, the fight seeping out. "I know."
There's a pause, and Nate takes its slight awkwardness gladly, watching through the corner of his eye.
It's not the same Deadpool he once stuffed into a FedEX box for his own amusement; he's not even the same Wade who begged him to understand he hadn't meant to kill the man, really, just a month earlier. Something's off about him, and it takes Nate a little while to figure out exactly what it is.
(Dom, throwing her arms around his neck, reaching up and smiling at him for the first time in a long while, before she-- he feels it digging into his stomach when she kisses him, and some part of his mind whispers, neutrally, she put this gun against my head. Relationships in Nate's life, those that truly matter, are so very, very... difficult.)
The silence comes on strong, and Wade is moving on his stool - to leave, presumably. They can't leave it at this, not with all doors blocked, obstructions dumped everywhere on the way, and yes, maybe it's the friendship that's worth something to him, too. He does the only thing he can, because he can't-- can't fail this one. Not here, not now.
"Loitering with malicious intent?" he asks.
And Wade just sags, then straightens, some muscle pulling at the corners of his mouth. "I caught this flick about psychological warfare on Lifetime the other day. Was in Hollywood, an' I wanted to know if that stuff really worked, 'cause it sounds like a crock, so I tracked down Mischa Barton. Got the star map and everything, though it kinda was full of bullet holes, so that didn't work out too well..."
He gets an amused snort.
"Well, Nate, I got arrested for public indecency and loitering with malicious intent."
With nothing left to say on his part, attempt made, it's as if Wade detects his cue and segues in with the next part of the script. He taps the top of his bottle once, twice.
"What the hell was that back there, Nate? You're not the 'give up easy' type. Actually, you're more the 'cling to things in an incredibly annoying way that makes me want to shoot you in the head a lot' type."
"Now who's in 'Phil-space'?"
"What, so you can figure out another gazillion ways to sacrifice yourself for the sake of-- whatever?" Openly staring at him now, Wade's pockmarked brows pull together, his hand resting protectively around a half-empty bottle. Somewhere in the distance, he can hear sirens. "I'm startin' to think it's some kind've a hobby, you gonna do it for kittens next? ...Fluffy, fluffy kittens. With fluffy, fluffy claws, and adorable fluffy eyes... What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Don't sacrifice yourself for the kittens. Even if they are so very fluffy."
Nate is now the one feeling muscle spasms as his memory pulls him forcibly back into the past. Thinking desperate thoughts - it's ruined, all of this, but maybe if I pull another sacrifice--, and Wade was so very convenient. And then the weather changed, and he found himself being scolded by a madman, just like this. The bizarre nature of his life is becoming clearer with every day he spends around the merc.
"Good. 'Cause you got to remember there's people who'd appreciate it if you don't go and do the X-Men dying thing all the time, alright? It's getting to be kinda a drag. Maybe next time I should die for a while, see how you like it."
This whole situation... Hundreds dead, thousands homeless, a lifetime of death and hope and plotting and pain and yet here he is, in a bar, with Wade-- Wade, the prankster mercenary who can never keep his mouth shut, is looking at him with an infinitely serious expression on his face and it's-- Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. The laughter bubbles up in his gut unexpectedly, forcing its way up and out, and suddenly he's hunched over the table, giggling like a school girl.
There may be a hint of desperation, there.
"I'm, heh." he wipes his eyes. "You're reading me the riot act about personal responsibility." He bursts out into another round of strangled laughter when he sees the perplexed expression on Wade's face, and now he can't seem to stop, as if they switched places.
Within the next moment, Wade's eyes have whipped from him to the wall and back several times. "Huh." he says, "I am. Um... Maybe I got replaced by a Skrull, or something? Maybe that nubile little Hulkling from those overly fangirled Young Avengers figured this was the only way he was gonna get in my pants. Actually, that'd be cool, 'cause then the fangirls would write in, and maybe Fabes could get me a love interest or something. I mean the guy is underage, but you haven't done it till you've done it with a shapeshifter, and anyway, the sales would go up, and everybody loves those cutie pie baby Avengers, so I might actually get some fanfic written about--"
The last hysterical giggle is repressed with some effort, cold metal against his lips. The pressure is off him, now, and he can almost physically feel everything slotting back into place, doused in well-needed relativity. His mind lurches to get back to himself, not in full, but the first steps have been made.
"Wade." The old fondness still holds. "Your point?"
"Oh, right. Um. Anyway, my point is, less with the throwing yourself at crosses all the time, alright? Sans the Cone of Technobabble, it ain't just Domino who's got the skills to take you down, an' I'm not gonna go on another do-it-yourself-X-Men-resurrection-fox-hunt for you now that we're divorced and all."
The truth is... Back just a week ago, he had a mission, a group of dedicated, skilled followers and a woman who had every domino in the world scrambling to fall for her. But for the moment - one which he imagines will not last long, if he has anything to say about it - it comes back to this strangely familiar configuration of just Wade and him, standing in the space between best friends and blood enemies.
Some things never change. Not really. He never thought that thought could be so comforting.
"So what're you gonna do now that Priscilligan's Island's all bust?"
Wade slides off his stool, walking purposefully towards the pool table. The conversation is ending for real, as it's beginning to become hard to understand anything over the noise of the police cars, roaring across the road outside. He won't be rushed, though, and he doubts Wade will, either.
"There's Rumekistan to think about. The invaders did some damage, but I'm sure it can be fixed." He sighs. "I was... blinded, for a while. But Providence is a setback, nothing more. As Rumekistan grows, it can take its place. It'll be... difficult, but not impossible."
"Good on you." Wade picks up his mask.
Unlike just mere hours ago, now he finds himself with a million plans bubbling up in his mind: his first reaction to the entire situation didn't quite work out, but there are several ways it can be exploited. It might even work out better, in the long run - though it'll take time to build something like Providence again.
He'll have to do it alone, but hopefully that won't last too long. Hope is something he has a lot of.
"I could use your help." He turns around on his stool, painfully aware that he's out of cards where Wade's concerned, and that all that remains in his arsenal is honesty. Thanking him for his support won't leave much of an impression. "Come with me. Please."
Wade just smiles at him, ruefully, the fabric of his mask caught between his fingers for a long moment.
"I gotta go steal a cab before the cops come in." he says. He slips the mask over his skull, down over his nose, and he's Deadpool again. "Hasta la vista, Nate."
"Where are you going?"
"Never seen the Space Needle before. I think I'm gonna get me some Seattle grace, if you know what I mean. No, wait, 'course you don't," he says, "All you watch is The View."
"Rosie O'Donnell's an interesting host."
"Rosie O'Donnell's got interesting fat," Wade replies, "I hear they study it in labs to fight anthrax. But trust me, Seattle's gonna be a riot." He winks, and manages to slip out through the back door right as the sirens come to a thundering halt by the door.
A few more moments and policemen seep past him like ants, waving their guns and shouting-- one lifts that arm and nearly vomits. They yell and push, but Nate sits there, sipping his beer quietly, crafting plans for his twentieth go-around. They won't notice him, not for real - that's not a mutant power, that's pure experience. It makes him feel... good. Like himself again.
Power isn't what makes the man.
With at least a dozen policemen stuck in a cramped bar, looking for any evidence at all, he walks quietly out the front door. There are people to be contacted, deals to be made, cities to be reorganized. There's an election coming.
Thanks to the power of modern technology, the night is spent in a rundown motel in the middle of Rumekistan's capital, stuffed full of pillows by the motel's well-meaning owner. Exhaustion crashes down on him like a lead weight, and within moments, he's out for the count, sprawled haphazardly across the bed.
First there's darkness, darkness- blurry, darkness, peace, quiet--
Then there's blue eyes, white skin...
On the fence in front of him sits a dark blond man - twenties, thirties, forties, he can't quite tell. Clad in a leather jacket and a red cap, familiar eyes and a more familiar grin-- "There's gotta be some way outta here, I'm telling you," comes the hollow Demi Moore crisp. "There's too much weird shit going on, can't get no relief. Big boys are chugging my booze, gals are diggin' 'round my underwear drawer, they got no idea how much I paid."
Then Wade slides off the fence and walks towards him, past him, throwing him a grin over his shoulder as he brushes closely past-- "Your line, Nate." --and disappears.
He wakes up with his eyes at the ceiling which, for just a moment, seems perfect and white, South Pacific sun crawling across it until the bricks break through and he remembers, once again: Rumekistan. Night.
The blankets - flimsy as they are - are quickly cast aside and he paces, naked, towards the window, his hand leaning gently against the wall. Another hour or two and morning will break, but until then, he's lost and alone with his thoughts--
He wishes Dom was here. Fighting, loving, whatever it takes to keep her by his side. The two are linked, anyway. His arms are crossed over the window sill as he tries to retrace his steps over the past few weeks. Somewhere, a fatal flaw snuck into the plan, and when exploited, cast a good deal into ruin.
Almost took him along with it.
"Your line, Nate." What line? What line? It's just a dream. But without this connection -- without the instant recall, the grasp, the pluck of minds--
He pulls away from the window, nearly pounds his arm into the wall before he remembers the tenderness of the graft, genes not his own.
Someone knocks on the door. It must be urgent, if they're disturbing him this late into the night. He opens it.
"[A message for you, sir.]"
He takes the card. On the front is a photograph of domino pieces, one standing upright, the other about to fall over, and one on the ground. He flips it around.
Not again. I'm sorry. it says simply. No return address, but he can guess.
This time, he does pound his arm into the wall. It hurts like hell, and the metal grins at him like a mangy dog looking to spite its owner. But his blood, his blood is screaming another tune-- not his blood, really. One of many questions he knew wouldn't be answered.
In his room sits an old television, some of the buttons removed from use with black scotch tape. He sits down and flips the channels, just this once - a bit like information, except so very much not. Eventually, he settles on a program that seems somehow familiar (explosions and spaceships; one of Wade's, maybe?) and dozes, half-awake, longing for sunlight to paint the walls. No reason to get excited.
Cable loves everyone - sometimes tough love, often gentle -, but Nathan loves some people better, and Nate, the wanting with little interest in the future, he loves a few very specific people best. In vastly different ways. Usually, when one isn't bleeding into the other--- his mind is playing tricks and he really, really needs to get back to reality. It shouldn't be taking this long.
In the shadows reflected on his window, black ovals are grinning at him, but he doesn't know if it's one or two, and some part of him doesn't-- really-- care. Staring out restlessly over the gleaming lights of Rumekistan, it occurs to the rest of him that he needs to get himself back together again.
The world still needs a leader, even if it won't admit it. It still needs him, and that needs to be enough.
TO BE CONCLUDED (with any luck)